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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 1)


Since its start in 1995, eBay is one of the fastest growing business venues around. Over two billion items and nearly $50 billion dollars in final sale prices were produced last year, and every year eBay gets bigger and better. If you’re ready to start your own business, or expand your current one, using eBay will almost guarantee your success. This week’s four part series will take you through the steps of starting a successful eBay business, starting with eBay basics.

Most people are well aware of eBay and its primary function, but some just haven’t had the chance to use it yet. eBay is an online auction website, where you can find most anything you’re looking for, and quite often reasonably priced below market value. Like normal auctions (though, it is much easier to understand the auctioneer), buyers bid on an item and the highest bidder at the close of the auction gets the item for that price, plus shipping charges.

It is free to join eBay to browse and buy, so I recommend that you first register. To do so, go to eBay’s registration page, where you will supply your contact information, as well as pick out a user ID. Be aware that, should you plan to use eBay as a business, this ID will be viewed by all. So pick something that reflects who you are and what your business will be.

Take some time to explore eBay and learn about the features. There are eBay communities for discussions with other users, a help page, information for buyers, information for sellers; the list goes on and on. And do some shopping as well. The best way to learn how to sell on eBay is to buy on eBay. This will give you an opportunity to find out what works and doesn’t work for your future listings.

Bidding and Seller Ratings
It’s important that you understand that bidding on an item is a legally binding contract, and it takes quite a bit of effort to back out of a bid, including a mark on your eBay record and a possible reprimanding by eBay. So be sure to fully read each auction and all the specifics before deciding to bid. If you have any questions about the item or the seller’s policies, e-mail the seller about it before bidding, since you may not like the answer they give you.

The most crucial item to examine when you are interested in an item is the seller’s feedback rating. This will also be the first thing your future buyers will look at. A seller’s feedback rating is their reputation as both a buyer and a seller on eBay. It is a comment that the buyer/seller leaves about that user at the end of the transaction, reflecting how that person presented him or herself as an eBay member.

You will find this rating on the top right hand side of the item listing page, under “Meet the seller.” It will first list the seller’s ID, followed by a number in parentheses, which indicates the number of positive feedback ratings the seller has received from individual eBay members.

The next line will indicate what percentage of all of the feedback the seller has received has been positive during their entire membership on eBay. By clicking on the number following the seller ID, you will be able to view all the feedback the seller has ever received, positive, negative or neutral, and a summary of what that feedback has been for the past 12 months.

I highly recommend that you do not buy from someone with a feedback score of less than 10 or a positive percentage of less than 90%, as these sellers either do not have the experience to guarantee a trustworthy sale, or have proved themselves to be inconsistent and untrustworthy to other eBay users.

This is also important to know when considering starting an eBay business. You will need to purchase some items on eBay, and be a good customer, in order to build up your feedback rating, so that future buyers will be more likely to purchase an item from you. What qualifies as a good customer is someone who pays quickly and communicates well with the seller. Easy enough, right?

Sign Up for a Paypal Account
It is also important to register with PayPal, which is owned by eBay. PayPal enables you to pay for your items using a checking account, debit card or credit card in a secure and safe manner. In fact, PayPal has received such notoriety for its safe process that many online stores outside eBay are beginning to accept PayPal for payments of online orders.

Most eBay sellers will only accept PayPal payments, because it guarantees the payment will be received. Your payment information is never sent to the seller, as the payment is sent directly to PayPal and then PayPal sends it on. PayPal will be necessary when you are selling on eBay, since most buyers prefer to pay this way as well, so it is better to go ahead and get your account established now.

There are many more aspects of eBay that you should familiarize yourself with before starting and eBay business. EBay is easy to use, and you can most certainly learn as you go if you must, but it is better to understand the way the site works in order to make it easier when you transition from buyer to seller. I have provided some helpful links below to get you started.

View Part 2 – Selling an Item
View Part 3 – Casualseller to Powerseller
View Part 4 – Building an eBay Empire

Sources/Helpful eBay Links:
• Starting an EBay Business
• Getting Started on EBay
• New to eBay Help Page

Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 4)
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 3)
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 2)
Outsource Your Chores and Errands
Customer Reviews Make Business Better

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

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